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Old 2006-12-20, 03:29   Link #641
Cz
Needs more sleep~
 
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCHADOWFOX View Post
there isn't

but you can pm or mail me the name and the vote it should be
Bah, nvm. I forgot whose entry I voted wrongly now. Too many names to remember. t.t

Quote:
Originally Posted by basket View Post
You can do either option. If you click on the "Vote" link from the main panel on the left-hand side after logging in, that takes you to a page where you can vote for everyone.
Oh! I was wondering why people kept saying that they can mass vote. It'd help if I could choose who to mass vote 'cos I have a lot of the same (good) scores for people.
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Old 2006-12-20, 11:25   Link #642
Natsumeyashi Meiyo
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I VOTED! WHOO! *bounce*

Can't wait for the announcement of the winners. If I recall correctly I voted 10 for two entries, but I won't say which ones
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Old 2006-12-20, 15:04   Link #643
Wrexsoul
Delicious Carrot
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Age: 33
Okay, I'm going to give some blanket comments based on all of the entries. Hopefully this will be helpful for some because it will be quite long. Also, blanket disclaimer that I am not a professional singer or producer, so take this advice with salt to taste.

Ways to improve your Karacon entry:

A. Clarity
Probably the most common comment I made was one about clarity. To put it shortly, if people can't hear your lyrics well, you aren't singing clearly, or the recording is muddy, it's hard to rate you very high. There are a few ways to improve your clarity.

1. Sing confidently
A lot of people do the singing equivalent of mumbling. By being reserved with your singing, you lack the power to project a clear, solid note.
2. Good posture
Clarity can also be helped by having good posture when singing (either standing or sitting upright in a chair is the best, so that the chest is not bent or compressed. This gives you full use of your diaphragm, which is the key muscle in singing loudly and clearly.
3. Sing from your chest, not your throat
This is just general performance advice that carries for both singing and acting alike. You can deliver much more power and clarity by using your diaphragm and not your upper lungs to produce sound.
4. Enunciate clearly
Mudmouth, mumbling, or mushy sounding pronunciation doesn't come across very well, even if the listener can't understand the language.
5. Record and mix yourself well
I'll cover this later under mixing, but no matter how clearly you sing into the mic, unless that same clarity comes through on the final recording, nobody will know.
6. Sing a piece you enjoy
Of course this is to have fun, and you can let yourself go and sing more confidently. It's all for fun anyway, so you might as well sing what you want. :3

B. Precision
I actually use precision to mean both precision and the accuracy of the delivered notes. Basically, are the notes on pitch? Do they start and end at the right times? Do they waver around or trail off?

1. Practice
This is a blanket statement, I know, but it bears mentioning. Practicing is how we get better, and short of professional training (which also requires practice), it is the best way to improve your delivery.
2. Listen to yourself
If you are off-pitch or sound awkward on a section, you may not know it until you actually go back and listen. Also, by listening you can find the areas that you need to work on to improve yourself.
3. Multiple takes
There's nothing to stop you from retrying until you get it right. Not only can you choose the take that sounds the best, but the extra takes give you practice -and- you can listen to yourself, both of which should help.
4. Choose a suitable piece
Some pieces are more technically difficult than others. And a challenging piece doesn't necessarily sound better, even if you perform it well. On this note is to make sure the piece you choose is within your voice's range without straining . A baritone who forces himself to sing tenor will come out sounding worse than if he sung in his natural range, for instance.
5. Pronounce things accurately
A lot of anime songs are in Japanese. A lot of people don't speak Japanese. Still, if you're going to do a song phonetically, practice the pronunciation of the words. We think it's hilarious when there are Engrish songs done by even professional voice actors (i.e. Megumi Hayashibara sings Fry me to za Moon). It is similarly painful when non-Japanese speakers sing from Romanized lyrics without practice. It's noticeable even if you don't speak Japanese.
Especially difficult is the Japanese 'r' sound, which I could go into a lengthy discussion about the correct way to pronounce. The easiest way to improve here is to just listen to the song and to your own singing of it and try to pick up the intonations. And practice.

C. Consistency
Does the piece sound the same from the beginning to end? For instance, does the volume change drastically from verse to verse, or even within the same note? Is the singer very emphatic in the middle but mumbles at the beginning or end? An inconsistent sound will make the piece sound worse, even if it's otherwise well-executed.

1. Practice
Again, by practicing, you will get used to your delivery and be able to produce it consistently, if not well.
2. Move your microphone back
If the microphone is too close, very slight changes in your angle or position can make a very big difference in the sound that comes out of it. By moving it back (and preferably fixing it somewhere solid), you can minimize this.
3. Multiple takes
Surprisingly, multiple takes improve your consistency, as you can choose the take(s) that mesh together the best.

D. Mixing
Even though it is a contest for karaoke, and thus singing, people will be judging the quality of the song in the end. A well-mixed song will sound better and people will better be able to hear and appreciate your lyrics. On the other hand, if the lyrics are too soft and covered up by the music; or if the music sounds soft and tinny, it's hard to judge how it's supposed to sound.

1. Do software mixing
Trying to pick up the music you are singing to in your microphone just sounds terrible- usually resulting in the frequency lost associated with the "old car radio" sound. Similarly, using any kind of physical wire "loop" with the music from another source is doomed to sounding bad.
Software mixing isn't too hard to learn, and can be done with freely available software like Audacity, which even supports multitrack recording.
2. Use a karaoke/instrumental/off-vocal/etc. cut of the song
Most popular anime songs come out on singles, and quite often these singles include a karaoke (no-vocal track) version of the opening and ending credits. Sometimes full soundtracks include these on the second or third CD as bonus material. These sound infinitely better than software voice-rips, which leave the song sounding watery and tinny. It's also much preferred over trying to sing over the existing vocals, which usually requires you to mix the music track so quietly you can't hear how the song should sound very well.
If you don't have or don't know how to get a karaoke version of the song you want to sing, seriously consider choosing a different song.
3. Avoid red-barring
When recording your vocals, most programs will show you the recording levels. Make sure they never hit max (the red bar), as this will result in a popping or rattling sound, and a marked loss of quality. If you red bar, try moving the microphone back, especially if you only get a "popping" kind of max when starting words, like p-sounds. Also, try setting your recording volume a little lower.
4. Turn off mic-boost
"Mic boost" is a setting that will greatly increase the volume of your microphone, but at a cost of quality. When mic boost is turned on, you will get a lot more red-barring, buzzing, and white noise static.
5. Normalize your recordings
Normalization is a process of amplifying a sound to a certain decibel level. The good thing about normalization is that it will not ever truncate your waveform, which means you won't get pops or buzzing from that. However, normalization is less effective if everything isn't recorded at roughly the same volume level. Pops in recording can make normalization ineffective.
The reason why you want to normalize is so the vocal track and underlying music track are both about the same volume. You want the music to be a little quieter so the vocals can be heard clearly over it.
6. Static reduction
Most people don't count static reduction as an artificial filter (thus disqualifying you from the contest). Audacity does static reduction, which -can- make your vocals sound clearer, but if your clip has a lot of static, it will instead make it sound tinny or watery. The easiest and best way to reduce static is to get a good microphone.
7. Get a good microphone
This really helps, I swear. Less static, less red-barring, and you can record at a lower setting without having to rely on mic boost. The quality of the frequency ranges picked up alone makes it worth it, especially if you have any use outside of the Karacons. Personally, I use a PS2 USB headset mic that I got for $20 to use for online games like WoW. It works just fine. A more specialized or professional one will yield even better results.


I hope this proves to be helpful to someone. Please feel free to add to the list. If you think it's worthwhile enough, I could make it a separate post so people could read it for future competitions.

- Carrot
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Old 2006-12-20, 23:05   Link #644
kaitokid05
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrexsoul View Post
Okay, I'm going to give some blanket comments based on all of the entries. Hopefully this will be helpful for some because it will be quite long. Also, blanket disclaimer that I am not a professional singer or producer, so take this advice with salt to taste.

Ways to improve your Karacon entry:

A. Clarity
Probably the most common comment I made was one about clarity. To put it shortly, if people can't hear your lyrics well, you aren't singing clearly, or the recording is muddy, it's hard to rate you very high. There are a few ways to improve your clarity.

1. Sing confidently
A lot of people do the singing equivalent of mumbling. By being reserved with your singing, you lack the power to project a clear, solid note.
2. Good posture
Clarity can also be helped by having good posture when singing (either standing or sitting upright in a chair is the best, so that the chest is not bent or compressed. This gives you full use of your diaphragm, which is the key muscle in singing loudly and clearly.
3. Sing from your chest, not your throat
This is just general performance advice that carries for both singing and acting alike. You can deliver much more power and clarity by using your diaphragm and not your upper lungs to produce sound.
4. Enunciate clearly
Mudmouth, mumbling, or mushy sounding pronunciation doesn't come across very well, even if the listener can't understand the language.
5. Record and mix yourself well
I'll cover this later under mixing, but no matter how clearly you sing into the mic, unless that same clarity comes through on the final recording, nobody will know.
6. Sing a piece you enjoy
Of course this is to have fun, and you can let yourself go and sing more confidently. It's all for fun anyway, so you might as well sing what you want. :3

B. Precision
I actually use precision to mean both precision and the accuracy of the delivered notes. Basically, are the notes on pitch? Do they start and end at the right times? Do they waver around or trail off?

1. Practice
This is a blanket statement, I know, but it bears mentioning. Practicing is how we get better, and short of professional training (which also requires practice), it is the best way to improve your delivery.
2. Listen to yourself
If you are off-pitch or sound awkward on a section, you may not know it until you actually go back and listen. Also, by listening you can find the areas that you need to work on to improve yourself.
3. Multiple takes
There's nothing to stop you from retrying until you get it right. Not only can you choose the take that sounds the best, but the extra takes give you practice -and- you can listen to yourself, both of which should help.
4. Choose a suitable piece
Some pieces are more technically difficult than others. And a challenging piece doesn't necessarily sound better, even if you perform it well. On this note is to make sure the piece you choose is within your voice's range without straining . A baritone who forces himself to sing tenor will come out sounding worse than if he sung in his natural range, for instance.
5. Pronounce things accurately
A lot of anime songs are in Japanese. A lot of people don't speak Japanese. Still, if you're going to do a song phonetically, practice the pronunciation of the words. We think it's hilarious when there are Engrish songs done by even professional voice actors (i.e. Megumi Hayashibara sings Fry me to za Moon). It is similarly painful when non-Japanese speakers sing from Romanized lyrics without practice. It's noticeable even if you don't speak Japanese.
Especially difficult is the Japanese 'r' sound, which I could go into a lengthy discussion about the correct way to pronounce. The easiest way to improve here is to just listen to the song and to your own singing of it and try to pick up the intonations. And practice.

C. Consistency
Does the piece sound the same from the beginning to end? For instance, does the volume change drastically from verse to verse, or even within the same note? Is the singer very emphatic in the middle but mumbles at the beginning or end? An inconsistent sound will make the piece sound worse, even if it's otherwise well-executed.

1. Practice
Again, by practicing, you will get used to your delivery and be able to produce it consistently, if not well.
2. Move your microphone back
If the microphone is too close, very slight changes in your angle or position can make a very big difference in the sound that comes out of it. By moving it back (and preferably fixing it somewhere solid), you can minimize this.
3. Multiple takes
Surprisingly, multiple takes improve your consistency, as you can choose the take(s) that mesh together the best.

D. Mixing
Even though it is a contest for karaoke, and thus singing, people will be judging the quality of the song in the end. A well-mixed song will sound better and people will better be able to hear and appreciate your lyrics. On the other hand, if the lyrics are too soft and covered up by the music; or if the music sounds soft and tinny, it's hard to judge how it's supposed to sound.

1. Do software mixing
Trying to pick up the music you are singing to in your microphone just sounds terrible- usually resulting in the frequency lost associated with the "old car radio" sound. Similarly, using any kind of physical wire "loop" with the music from another source is doomed to sounding bad.
Software mixing isn't too hard to learn, and can be done with freely available software like Audacity, which even supports multitrack recording.
2. Use a karaoke/instrumental/off-vocal/etc. cut of the song
Most popular anime songs come out on singles, and quite often these singles include a karaoke (no-vocal track) version of the opening and ending credits. Sometimes full soundtracks include these on the second or third CD as bonus material. These sound infinitely better than software voice-rips, which leave the song sounding watery and tinny. It's also much preferred over trying to sing over the existing vocals, which usually requires you to mix the music track so quietly you can't hear how the song should sound very well.
If you don't have or don't know how to get a karaoke version of the song you want to sing, seriously consider choosing a different song.
3. Avoid red-barring
When recording your vocals, most programs will show you the recording levels. Make sure they never hit max (the red bar), as this will result in a popping or rattling sound, and a marked loss of quality. If you red bar, try moving the microphone back, especially if you only get a "popping" kind of max when starting words, like p-sounds. Also, try setting your recording volume a little lower.
4. Turn off mic-boost
"Mic boost" is a setting that will greatly increase the volume of your microphone, but at a cost of quality. When mic boost is turned on, you will get a lot more red-barring, buzzing, and white noise static.
5. Normalize your recordings
Normalization is a process of amplifying a sound to a certain decibel level. The good thing about normalization is that it will not ever truncate your waveform, which means you won't get pops or buzzing from that. However, normalization is less effective if everything isn't recorded at roughly the same volume level. Pops in recording can make normalization ineffective.
The reason why you want to normalize is so the vocal track and underlying music track are both about the same volume. You want the music to be a little quieter so the vocals can be heard clearly over it.
6. Static reduction
Most people don't count static reduction as an artificial filter (thus disqualifying you from the contest). Audacity does static reduction, which -can- make your vocals sound clearer, but if your clip has a lot of static, it will instead make it sound tinny or watery. The easiest and best way to reduce static is to get a good microphone.
7. Get a good microphone
This really helps, I swear. Less static, less red-barring, and you can record at a lower setting without having to rely on mic boost. The quality of the frequency ranges picked up alone makes it worth it, especially if you have any use outside of the Karacons. Personally, I use a PS2 USB headset mic that I got for $20 to use for online games like WoW. It works just fine. A more specialized or professional one will yield even better results.


I hope this proves to be helpful to someone. Please feel free to add to the list. If you think it's worthwhile enough, I could make it a separate post so people could read it for future competitions.

- Carrot
Thank you very much for your helpful advice, but i think it all goes to waste without musical quality, unless you were intending to include that. If it was included in there it obviously wasn't emphasized enough (for lazy little me to notice...)

to put my message at its simplest, but not any simpler... be musical... that's top priority

I like voicing my opinions ~(@ o @)~...
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Last edited by kaitokid05; 2006-12-20 at 23:27.
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Old 2006-12-21, 00:56   Link #645
Cz
Needs more sleep~
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrexsoul View Post
7. Get a good microphone
This really helps, I swear. Less static, less red-barring, and you can record at a lower setting without having to rely on mic boost. The quality of the frequency ranges picked up alone makes it worth it, especially if you have any use outside of the Karacons. Personally, I use a PS2 USB headset mic that I got for $20 to use for online games like WoW. It works just fine. A more specialized or professional one will yield even better results.
Personally, I found that statement funny since you were just talking about getting a good microphone. My $30+ Sennheiser PC150 headset isn't much, but the expensive microphone that Jinto bought for the karacomp is good.

Quote:
- Carrot
Ah, so that's who you are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaitokid05 View Post
I like voicing my opinions ~(@ o @)~...
Pun intended?
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Old 2006-12-21, 01:02   Link #646
Wrexsoul
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I suppose "good" is really subjective. My point is even a mediocre headset can turn decent results, so people with bad microphones really should be able to get much better without much trouble at all.

But yes, I could use a better mic. I should break into school and use their sound booth next time.
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Old 2006-12-21, 01:30   Link #647
Li Jianliang
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrexsoul View Post
I suppose "good" is really subjective. My point is even a mediocre headset can turn decent results, so people with bad microphones really should be able to get much better without much trouble at all.
I used a $2 microphone from Goodwill, which had landed head-first in mac-n-cheese once before the competition. I wonder how much of the sound was cheesily muffled. Yep, poor college student here... All of my money is currently going into my Suzumiya Haruhi cosplay costume materials...
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Old 2006-12-21, 02:37   Link #648
kaitokid05
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwl12 View Post
Personally, I found that statement funny since you were just talking about getting a good microphone. My $30+ Sennheiser PC150 headset isn't much, but the expensive microphone that Jinto bought for the karacomp is good.

Ah, so that's who you are.

Pun intended?
hah.. how very punny of you...
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Old 2006-12-21, 08:22   Link #649
SCHADOWFOX
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Old 2006-12-21, 09:14   Link #650
cheyannew
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrexsoul View Post
I suppose "good" is really subjective. My point is even a mediocre headset can turn decent results, so people with bad microphones really should be able to get much better without much trouble at all.
Unless of course you're hitting vocal ranges well beyond what the microphone can handle :S

I was pretty confident using my bandmate's studio would work for the next comp, but at this latest gig I belted out a note and uhm..
Well, the monitor speakers screamed back lol.

We are looking into a different mic for me to use at shows now *cough*
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Old 2006-12-21, 12:56   Link #651
Natsumeyashi Meiyo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCHADOWFOX View Post
Thank you And also for the comments, kcl, I agree with you btw, I don't think I would either XD ^^

@Wrexsoul: Thanks for the advice. And to join the 'discussion' my mic over a 100 euros. It's a Sennheiser e845. But it's kinda weird, because when I record something lately, it sounds a bit like there's a layer of noise on top of the actual recording, to say it like that. I have to return it to the store. >.< Though when I sing and 'speaker' my voice at the same time, it sounds fine. Maybe it's because the mic is meant to be used for performing and not for 'studio' recording. ... >.>

Last edited by Natsumeyashi Meiyo; 2006-12-21 at 13:51.
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Old 2006-12-21, 16:09   Link #652
Jinto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natsumeyashi Meiyo View Post
Thank you And also for the comments, kcl, I agree with you btw, I don't think I would either XD ^^

@Wrexsoul: Thanks for the advice. And to join the 'discussion' my mic over a 100 euros. It's a Sennheiser e845. But it's kinda weird, because when I record something lately, it sounds a bit like there's a layer of noise on top of the actual recording, to say it like that. I have to return it to the store. >.< Though when I sing and 'speaker' my voice at the same time, it sounds fine. Maybe it's because the mic is meant to be used for performing and not for 'studio' recording. ... >.>
So we have the same mic (well I've a e845S but thats not really a difference). I had to use a good preamp to really get rid of noise (it is a low impedance mic after all, not high impedance what the soundcard plugs are made for).

@Cheyanne,

Maybe you want to try out the Sennheiser e845 too, it has excellent feedback rejection (at least what I did obeserve, I can play the music quite loud and it will not even record much of it, because it is made for single voice so if the sound of the monitor comes from a 120° angle it is almost suppressed completely - that fits very good to my speaker setup, except for the surround speakers).
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Old 2006-12-21, 19:10   Link #653
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Jinto, can you list your full hardware setup by name?
Preamp and any assorted cables included =P
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Old 2006-12-21, 19:49   Link #654
Fome
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Providence, that you?

And Jinto, does that work with Windows XP Media Center Edition.
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Old 2006-12-21, 19:58   Link #655
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Yep, that's me =P
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Old 2006-12-21, 21:00   Link #656
Jinto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Papaya View Post
Jinto, can you list your full hardware setup by name?
Preamp and any assorted cables included =P
I can give you the setup I used for Dynamite explosion. e845 (mic) going into the preamp of a Behringer XENYX 1002 mixer, from there going via chinch/line into my onboard soundcard, monitors (2 Yamaha NS G100 MKII) souncard via digital receiver (and 30ms delay).
Next year I get the M-Audio DMP3 (at least I hope M-Audio is able to ship it early next year - substitudes the Behringer).

@Fome,

I think so, because it is analogue (line/chinch) recording.


edit:

@Cz,

I bought it not having the karacomp in mind primarily. I thought about it like this, a good monitor is also a good HiFi sound source connected to your PC. A good mic is never wrong, especially considering we had some bigger events in our family, when a beamer + sound equipement was quite a good thing to have (events like e.g. silver wedding).

Last edited by Jinto; 2006-12-22 at 08:48.
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Old 2006-12-22, 02:23   Link #657
Cz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCHADOWFOX View Post
Cool, thanks Schadowfox for uploading.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheyannew View Post
I was pretty confident using my bandmate's studio would work for the next comp, but at this latest gig I belted out a note and uhm..
Well, the monitor speakers screamed back lol.
LOL. I think what you need is to stand waaay back and sing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinto Lin View Post
I can give you the setup I used for Dynamite explosion. e845 (mic) going into the preamp of a Behringer XENYX 1002 mixer, from there going via chinch/line into my onboard soundcard, monitors (2 Yamaha NS G100 MKII) souncard via digital receiver (and 30ms delay).
I don't understand all of that, but that's a lot of audio hardware for the karacomp. Are you singing professionally too? ^^;
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Old 2006-12-22, 02:34   Link #658
Natsumeyashi Meiyo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinto Lin View Post
I can give you the setup I used for Dynamite explosion. e845 (mic) going into the preamp of a Behringer XENYX 1002 mixer, from there going via chinch/line into my onboard soundcard, monitors (2 Yamaha NS G100 MKII) souncard via digital receiver (and 30ms delay).
Next year I get the M-Audio DMP3 (at least I hope M-Audio is able to ship it early next year - substitudes the Behringer).
I've got the M-Audio FastTrack

And yeah, I think it's to do with the preamp... the noise... I just have to find the right thing.

It is indeed a very good mic, because mostly I have turned the music indeed quite loud and alongside that also my own voice, amplified through the computer xD, and you don't hear any of that in your recording.
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Old 2006-12-23, 05:11   Link #659
katakami
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Age: 29
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Meiyo... your so amazing. *_*
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Old 2006-12-23, 12:08   Link #660
kcl822
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Somewhere in Hell
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Happily going over the scores and whatnot. Rather interesting too... Hopefully I'll be able to post it today. If not, tomorrow is another day!
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